News

10 March 2022

Submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants regarding the human rights impact of Safe Third Country practices on Kos and Chios

Equal Rights Beyond Borders submitted observations to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants regarding the human rights impact of Safe Third Country practices on Kos and Chios
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The full submission can be found here.

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On June 7, 2021, the Greek government designated Turkey as a safe third country for asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Somalia. This decision was criticized by refugee NGOs operating in Greece due to its lack of legal or logical basis.

The “safe third country” concept is applied as an inadmissibility ground. Thus, asylum seekers from these five countries can be returned to Turkey without an examination on the merits of their asylum application. This means that the asylum service only interviews asylum seekers as to whether Turkey can be considered a safe country for them to seek asylum—they are not asked any questions about why they fled their country of origin. As a result, crucial information on the personal circumstances of asylum seekers is disregarded in the asylum procedure.

Greece continues to summarily reject asylum seekers on this basis, despite the fact that Turkey has not accepted a single readmission since March 2020. Moreover, myriad anecdotal evidence points to the fact that these five nationalities are not in fact safe in Turkey—accounts of human rights abuses in Turkey, as well as chain refoulement to their countries of origin, are common.

Asylum seekers rejected as inadmissible are left in legal limbo–placed in pre-removal detention, or left undocumented in Greece with no legal right to work, and no access to asylum seeker benefits, such as accommodation in a reception centre or cash assistance.

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